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HomeWorks: A Book of Tennessee Writers written by Phyllis Tickle

 

HomeWorks: A Book of Tennessee Writers written by Phyllis Tickle

Overview:

This anthology, arriving in Tennessee's bicentennial year, is a bountiful showcase of the state's rich literary output. Like its predecessor, the widely read Homewords, published in 1986 for Tennessee's Homecoming, this new volume feature fiction, poetry, and nonfiction by living writers - from senior literati such as Shelby Foote, John Egerton, and Nikki Giovanni to numerous newly emerging talents, including Ann Patchett, Steve Womack, and Jerome Wilson. The writings contained here are of such rich and marvelous variety that they elude easy reduction to a set of common themes or concerns. Readers of this book, says editor Phyllis Tickle in her preface, will discover the pervasive influence of Native American culture upon Tennessee's worldview - "not so much overt and politically correct as inherent and incorporated." Beyond that, however, the selections are, if anything, characterized by the relative absence of those qualities usually associated with southern literature: the legacy of the Civil War, dialect and colloquialisms, and, most notably, "a sense of place." Yet, however much the posture of Tennessee writers may have shifted from regionalist to citizen of the moment, something essential remains. Throughout these pages, Tickle notes, "there resides the kind of dry, wise humor that is born of endurance and the secured perspective of those who know where and what home is ... which is why, in the end, we settled upon our title, HomeWorks - that is, works of the heart and mind, done from and for home."

Synopsis:

This anthology, arriving in Tennessee's bicentennial year, is a bountiful showcase of the state's rich literary output. Like its predecessor, the widely read Homewords, published in 1986 for Tennessee's Homecoming, this new volume feature fiction, poetry, and nonfiction by living writers - from senior literati such as Shelby Foote, John Egerton, and Nikki Giovanni to numerous newly emerging talents, including Ann Patchett, Steve Womack, and Jerome Wilson. The writings contained here are of such rich and marvelous variety that they elude easy reduction to a set of common themes or concerns. Readers of this book, says editor Phyllis Tickle in her preface, will discover the pervasive influence of Native American culture upon Tennessee's worldview - "not so much overt and politically correct as inherent and incorporated." Beyond that, however, the selections are, if anything, characterized by the relative absence of those qualities usually associated with southern literature: the legacy of the Civil War, dialect and colloquialisms, and, most notably, "a sense of place." Yet, however much the posture of Tennessee writers may have shifted from regionalist to citizen of the moment, something essential remains. Throughout these pages, Tickle notes, "there resides the kind of dry, wise humor that is born of endurance and the secured perspective of those who know where and what home is ... which is why, in the end, we settled upon our title, HomeWorks - that is, works of the heart and mind, done from and for home."

Publishers Weekly

Straddling the fence between inclusion and selection, quantity and quality, Tickle and Swanson offer a scattershot bicentennial tribute to the Volunteer State. The 110 living poets, essayists and fiction writers with Tennessee connections here include plenty of big guns, though not everyone is represented by their best work. Will Campbell's sentimental newspaper essay, John Fergus Ryan's sarcastic parody "Artist Drinks Perfume" and Jesse Hill Ford's "Work" are marginal. The same is true of historian Shelby Foote's dated, drab "A Marriage Portion." Othersincluding Alan Lightman (Good Benito) and Abraham Verghese (My Own Country)are represented by pieces already widely read. Emerging writers fare better. Jane Bradley's "Barbie Mourns the Dead," Ann Patchett's "Elizabeth Grown" and Michael Lee West's "Spring Fever, It's Catching, Run for Your Life" don't so much subvert as transcend the standard domestic drama. Peopled by unfulfilled women and inarticulate men who are either troubled by dead spouses, estranged children, broken marriages or sustained by little victories, these fine, lyric stories make good on the editors' promise of an anthology "as much predictive of the century to come as it is descriptive of the one just ending.". (July)

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Title: HomeWorks: A Book of Tennessee Writers